Chapter 13

The room was dark and only the flickering of candlelight gave his tired and aged eye's the required light to read. Albus Dumbledore blinked once, then twice before pushing his spectacles up to the bridge of his nose and reading the short missive again.

Notification for an application of apprenticeship

As required by the new guild charter of 1232 a formal application has been submitted by Master Sebastian Dawlish for the services of an apprentice.

He has selected Harry Potter, Gryffindor, 3rd Year for a full mastery in Charms.

Selection is to be confirmed by a panel of masters on the 1st of September 1994

One thought was prominent in his mind; this was not good, not good at all. In that moment all his previous sense of fatigue left him but at the same time, he had never felt so tired. "I must act fast" He murmured to himself, before giving a sharp whistle and holding out his hand.

In a screech and flash of flame he was gone.


Cornelius Fudge was a man who knew how to get things done and if he didn't then he bloody well knew someone who did. This though, was something else. It required some extra assistance and knew just the man for the job.

Oh, he knew what they said about him; running off to Dumbledore for every little thing or how crossing his palm with silver (well no, gold, he was the Minister of Magic – he dealt in gallons and a lot of them) would make things happen. That though was only half the story. He respected Albus, only a fool wouldn't, he was even now the most magically and politically powerful wizard in United Kingdom - if not the world. People like Albus saw the bigger picture but, he himself he dealt in details. It was with these details that he ran the political world. He would say that there was no one better at it.

Nine years in office, nine years since he started what seemed like his single-handed efforts to rebuild after the war. This peace was his legacy. In the years to come he liked to think that in the history of magic classes at Hogwarts they would call him Fudge the rebuilder; the man who brought calm after the storm. All that was now slipping away though and as far as he could see there was one man to blame.

It wasn't Albus (an old coot but one he trusted implacably) or Harry, such a lovely (If sometimes misguided) boy. Well not him directly anyway, no it was that bastard Igor Gorgavich. Just the thought of his name made his blood boil.

"Igor", He growled. First he shows him up this summer at the IWC. Calling some of the laws against Werewolves and Vampires are a disgrace, before branding me a bumbling fool who will to be to blame for any new terror threats that come along. Then he brings a naive young Harry along to the world cup. As if being embarrassed in front of the IWC by the blasted man were not enough, now he's actively trying to steal Harry Potter from me.

He could almost see his legacy going up in flames. He wouldn't be remembered as the great rebuilder, the one who in nine short years had almost single handily saved the country from financial ruin, brought the goblins to heel, refurbished St Mungo's and had a charmed window put in most of the important offices in the ministry (with plans for one of them in every office by 1998; just in time for re-election). No he would be seen as the man who drove Harry Potter The-Boy-Who-Lived, from England. He glared down at the paper fuming.

Notification for an application of apprenticeship

As required by the new guild charter of 1232 a formal application has been submitted by Master Sebastian Dawlish for the services of an apprentice.

He has selected Harry Potter, Gryffindor, 3rd Year for a full mastery in Charms.

Selection is to be confirmed by a panel of masters on the 1st of September 1994???

Yes he knew Dawlish, a good, fair man but seemingly under the thumb of that dam bastard Igor. He was there at the world cup with Harry and he's taught at Drumstrang before. It was too much of a coincidence one minute he's talking about visiting Bulgaria, now Igor's as good as kidnapping him from me.

Albus will know what to do he thought, as he made his way over to the rather ornate fire place, stifling a small yawn. Grabbing a hand full of Floo powder he shook his head, he would sort it out in the morning.


His mind flew through different scenarios at such a break neck speed, idea's appearing and being discarded in the blink of an eye. The boy was a fool! No, he corrected himself, not a fool just young. He had no idea what he was letting himself in for.

His short, if (though he wouldn't admit it to Bella) extremely productive Summer Apprenticeship with Master Figg had given the boy a miss guided, or skewed if you will, look at an apprenticeship. In a Squib, like Bella, the Master/Apprentice bond mostly sits dormant as such leaving him with a large amount of freewill. However, with magic it becomes something else all together, dark memories of his own time as a Transfiguration apprentice assaulted his mind.

Bella he could trust even with a full bond but Dawlish, he was dangerous. If he let the man further sink his teeth into the Boy-Who-Lived, who knows what might happen. With that bond, he could force Harry to agree to anything, say anything and act how he wished. No, Harry Potter in the hands of someone as ruthless as Sebastian Dawlish wouldn't be a disaster waiting to happen. It would just be a disaster of epic proportions.

Suddenly something stuck in his mind. 'Yes,' he thought. 'It was a long shot but that just might work.'


Seeing the both of them standing on the platform had been a pleasant occasion, well, for me at least. I received my obligatory hug for Hermione who, without doubt, hadn't intended to show me just how much she had grown over the holidays. Ron though on the other hand was a different story, with him having shot up again, gaining another couple of inches. His greeting of me, a slight nod of his head, which was then accompanied by a stony silence before he moved off to help Ginny with her trunk, was just about what I had expected. I'd thought is strange but the thing with Ron is, he'll let me know soon enough when he wants to settle his problem with me about this summer.

With, even if I do say so myself, a rather impressive display of strength, I lifted Hermione's trunk from her trolley and I slipped her a most charming smile. "Ready?" She spared me a smile before nodding to the train. "Ok Harry let's go and find a compartment, Come on, before all the best ones are gone." She said, before turning on her heel and marching to the carriage.

After a moment or two of initially pondering the validity of her statement I set off after her. I mean, they were all the same, weren't they? Following Hermione through the train I let out a grunt of displeasure as she lead me all the way to the back of the train passing several empty compartments, not caring a jolt it seemed that I was carrying her own personal miniature library. Incidentally bringing us to the very first carriage I had ever ridden in all those years ago – right at the back of the train no less.

As I was trying to catch my breath, I peered through the window. Ron was sitting in there, his arms folded and staring off into space, there was no sign of Ginny and he had a slight scowl plastered across his face. To be honest though, after this summer and his cold greeting, of well, not greeting me, I could think of better places to sit like maybe with that creepy Creevey kid.

I hear a quiet but sincere, "Thank you Harry", From Hermione as she slides the door open, strange I thought. Entering through the sliding door in Hermione wake, Ron's head snaps up. His eyes narrow as they settle on me before sliding down to the trunk I'm holding coming to rest on the golden H G emblazoned on the lid. I can see the exact second it falls into place that this is Hermione's which was about two seconds before he rushed to help me store it in the overhead racking, giving me one last cold look that, quite frankly, was rather unimpressive.

Hermione was nervously chewing on her bottom lip at the exchange, giving me a small smile and nod in thanks before turning away to sit beside Ron who had started asking her quite loudly if she enjoyed herself this summer; staying with him at the burrow. To my credit, I did only fell slightly jealous as he spoke on and on and on.

Turning to the window I looked watching as the houses shot passed the window for a few minutes before pulling out my shrunken trunk. Holding it up to the light I inspected it for a moment before giving it one smart rap with my knuckles. Then quickly placing it on the seat to the side of me I let it expand, stopping it at around half its size with a single tap of my wand and pulling out a book. Shrinking my trunk down to size once more, I settled down for what surly is going to be an overly long and no doubt awkward journey back to Hogwarts.



As I was roughly jerked forwards as the infernal train jolted again, I let out a slight growl. Honestly, couldn't they find some kind of charm for the train to stop this? I looked over at my travelling companions, both recovering from another nasty jerk. Leaving both Ron and Hermione sprawled out over the seat and floor respectively. Taking the sight of both of them I frowned slightly, they had both grown somewhat over the holidays but, I reasoned, people can change a lot over the three months - I know I have.

It had been a quiet ride so far, well if you ignored Ron retelling Hermione everything they did together that summer, and oh what fun they'd had together. Though with her having been there at the time I can't help but to think that it's more for my benefit then hers, bloody git.

Suddenly and without warning, the compartment door slid open, revealing three most unwelcome figures. In the middle and standing not so tall with his, what I had come to think as his, perpetual smirk adorning his face was the glorious (well as his bewitched mirrors must tell him) form of one Draco Malfoy.

Looking up at him for a moment before turning away, I smile. It's so tempting to tell him how he appears ridiculously short, when flanked by the two giants that are Crabbe and Goyle, but seeing as I'm still a bit of a short arse myself I decide to be the bigger man and let it go. Unsurprisingly, Ron was on his feet his wand out the slight smile gracing his face, one of numerous indicators he was spoiling for a fight. It was his way I suppose, of reliving the tension that we all had felt building up in the compartment.

In some ways I mused, it was nice that some things apparently never change. Turning my head slightly allowing me to watch proceeding from the corner of my eye, but, at the same time still not look bothered with what was going on, another useful skill I'd picked up from Sebastian. Having had time enough time for people to get into their normal positions I take in the compartment once again.

Hermione was standing now, holding on to the back of Ron's robes. Her wand was drawn, though she hid it from view behind Ron's gangly frame. Looking over at Malfoy on the other side of the compartment I could see she was over reacting. I mean Malfoy didn't even have his wand drawn and his two buffoons were no threat.

He turned away from Ron and Hermione looking down at me, casually reading, his smirk faded giving him a slightly miffed look. Seemingly upset that he didn't have my undivided attention. "So Potter," He began, his smirk reappearing. How original! "I hear you have been with some real wizards this summer, people more befitting someone of your status."

It wasn't a question, it was a typical show of knowledge, done in an attempt to prove that he had some kind of upper hand. With how most people believe knowledge is power, it was a nice play. Though my apprenticeship was common knowledge, not many people knew about Sebastian's extra tutoring. At first I didn't really understand it, but Sebastian had forced certain things into my brain, through his favourite method of teaching, repartition.

At this point I could have pointed out how I spent far more time with old Miss Figg, my squib Master. That though would have opened me up to far too many questions from Hermione about how one becomes a master when they're a squib. Questions I wasn't sure I wanted to or could answer, not right now anyway. Also it would be nice to see where this goes.

"Everyone knows that Harry spent his summer with Master Figg." Hermione spoke with a slight frown on her face. Possibly from her being a little jealous, I didn't know. Ron butted in before she could go on "Yeah, and she's a squib not some real wizard." He snapped out causing my eyes to narrow and harden at my red headed companion.

"Oh?" Draco replied feigning shook for about a second before going on. "So you didn't know? I suppose he didn't even invite you then weasel. Well it was probably for the best." He stopped looking Ron over slowly and deliberately. "I mean, I doubt they would have allowed you in, not the top box anyway, it's only for the best." Before returning his gaze to me and sneering, "Or those that are hideously disfigured."

Then making a show of thinking about it he looked back at Ron and chuckled. "Then again, with that hair and those freckles you do have the hideous part down eh, weasel?" With surprising strength that belayed her size Hermione managed to keep an enraged Ron from charging forward and attempting to tear Draco apart with his bare hands, as I sat still, not intervening. I mean after Ron's comment about Master Figg I felt that there was some kind of karma at work here.

"Go on then," Draco sneered taking a step back, closer to Crabbe and Goyle. "Let him off his leash mud…"

"Draco!" I snapped, looking up into his eyes for the first time, not even trying to hide my anger, I despised that word! Now that I had every ones attention it was time to end this, before it got too boring anyway. Sebastian's words in my ears, 'Find a weak spot and hit it hard and fast, once there down keep kicking until they run away... or are in a coma.'

"Watch your language. Now do you want something or are you merely trying to indulge in some kind of deluded fantasy? One in which your something, that is something other than a waste of our time." I finished this off with a slight glance at my watch, looking as bored as Ron was confused.

"Potter, when my father hears about..." Ah, weak spot daddy dearest. I cut across him once more. "He would be embarrassed at you behaviour. I found him to be a vastly more civil wizard than you could ever hope to be." Now I went in for the kill, or possibly a kick to the groin. "No, no little Drake. You have a long, long, way to go in his eyes." His eyes widen at my casual use of his old nickname, hitting him with the same tactic of superior knowledge that he had employed, when he first entered the compartment.

That, I believe, is game set and match to me. Now it was time to make the little snake dash back to its pit. "Goodbye Draco, Crabbe, Goyle please, enjoy the rest of your ride." Before I turn back to my book only the sound of his shuffling feet and the slam of the compartment door tells me he has gone. Not even a cartoonish shout of, 'Next time Potter,' Issuing from his mouth, I smirked, Sometimes, it's nice to be me.

"Harry?" Ron's voice cuts across the silence in the compartment, I look up to where he is still standing - looking away from me at the door, and I frown slightly.

"Yes Ron?"

"What did you mean, you know, about talking to his dad." Bugger "I meet him at the world cup. He was also at this after party that I was dragged to." Best not mention it was his party I thought to myself. At his silence I wondered if this was going to be too much for him after this summer.

"It must have been nice, up in the top box." His voice was tight. "I didn't think you could make it, not to the world cup, that's what you said when I asked you. I mean I can kind of understand. I mean I would have wanted to sit in the top box too." His voice seemed distant; hurt no doubt, like I was this summer. Sebastian said that I should be the bigger wand.

"Ron," I started, "It wasn't like that. I didn't even know I was going until the night before and we only got there just before the tipoff." He turned to me, his eyes flashing, "Yeah right! I was there, it took us hours to sort out security and get to the stadium and my dad is a department head. So don't lie to me." His anger was starting to build up, coming through clearly in his voice as he went on.

"So, what was this after party like then, hob knobbing with Lucius Malfoy huh, talking to the minster as well no doubt?" Mimicking me he continued, "Oh yes, me and Draco are such good friends, Yes minster I would like two cubes with that, of course you can look at my scar Krum."

I didn't know whether to laugh or not. His impression of me was a bit off, but well, I had I suppose been, as he put it, hob knobbing with both Ministers of Magic and spoke to Viktor Krum for a few minutes.

Turning to Hermione he bit down on his temper. "I'm going to see Fred and George, w-will you come with me... please?" The strain in his voice was clear for us all to hear before he turned and fled out of the compartment. Sparing me a small glance she turned and followed him out.

As I sat there more upset than surprised by his attitude. I know he must have been upset but this was ridicules. So now I was sitting alone. Looking around the compartment a feeling of loneliness descended upon me for the first time since the summer after my first year. Ron and Hermione both of whom had always stood beside me, through thick and thin, had left me and I wanted to cry out or break something. I held it back though turning once again to the window staring out over the country side as we sped past it was starting to get on. The sun was falling and the night was starting to draw in, we would be there soon, in a couple of hours.

Reaching into my pocket I pulled out a slightly ruffled piece of parchment. I had received the letter from Sebastian earlier this morning. Fudge had, as was his right as minister of magic, asked for a Charms Masters gathering to discuss something, a regulation on a spell or some such. So now instead of a small board acknowledging and granting Sebastian's request, he now had to now submit it to the whole guild. He would get word to me as soon as he could.


A gentle hand resting on my shoulder roused me from the light, fitful sleep I'd drifted into. "Come on Harry, we're almost there," I heard. Opening my eyes I looked up sleepily into the slightly smiling face of one Hermione Granger. I can't help but let out a smile at the sight of her worried little over bite. She'd come back!

"Come on Harry, up you get." Blinking the sleep out of my eyes I look around groggily. "Where's Ron?" I asked stupidly, still blinking.

Her lips pursed slightly "He... He decided to ride out the rest of the journey with the twins. Don't worry about him though, you know him, he'll come around." Her smile takes on a decidedly false tone but I appreciate it none the less.

"You know that I didn't do anything wrong though don't you?" I protested, "Hermione I didn't know, honestly! Seb just sprang it on me the night before. I didn't know..." I trailed off turning away looking out the window.

With a small sigh she hugs me from behind. "Look Harry, I believe you. I do, but you know what Ron's like. He will come round eventually." She sounds sure enough that I fell inclined to believe her and happy enough with her pushing herself into my back that I was disinclined to untangle her.

"So," She mumbled into my back. "Just who is this Seb character you keep mentioning?" Even with my fatigued state of mind, I knew this wouldn't go down well. "He was my tutor over the summer. You know Master Figg is a squib, well he taught me magic." I finished hoping it would be enough. "Does he have a name? What else did he teach you? Did you learn spells? I thought you would have needed to spend all your time on potions to pass?" She inquired, each one of her questions coming quicker then the previous one. "Yeah it's Dawlish, Sebastian Dawlish." I replied, hoping she hadn't heard of him, with all my heart.

There was a few seconds of silence where I thought I had got away with it, and then before I could push on a sudden, "Oh!" interrupted the silence. I felt her arms tightening around me then suddenly fall away. "Oh," She repeated again it taking on a much darker tone than it had before.

"Harry, how could you? He's an animal!" She stepped away disgusted. "He hunts Werewolf's for fun then butchers them without mercy Harry" I turn to her she's looking at me as if seeing me for the first time.

"Look Hermione, l know what the books say about him but he isn't like that, he's a good guy, really he even..." Her eyes seemed to shine before widening as she remembered another fact, "HARRY!" She shouted scandalised. "He wanted to ban all Muggleborns from Hogwarts, send them off to some special educational facilities." She looked away almost in tears at the thought, "Hermione please, listen it's not like that. He's a brilliant wizard, he just wanted to help Muggleborns adjust to the culture of the Wizarding world."

"What, by locking them away," She almost snarled. "How could you say that, you, you agree with him don't you. You think I should be carted off to some prison, off with all the other Mudbloods do you. How could you think that, to hear this coming from your mouth!" Looking away she went on, "Pureblood politics at its finest" She snapped. "What about your mother what about..." She trailed off but I knew what she was to say - What about me... I had to fix this.

"No, Hermione calm down, please. You know me better than that. Of course I don't think he is right..." I had to be delicate at how I put this to her. "But, he has a point, we're so entrenched in the Muggle world we would think of Muggle solutions before magical ones." I started slowly, "Maybe if Hogwarts had a first year class to help first generation witches and wizards... adjust, to learn, that would help."

Seeing her look I went on. "Maybe something about wizard culture you know, important dates like we had Easter at Primary School. There are dates, holidays and events that we should know about. Litha, Yule, Ostara and Mabon to name but a few; these dates have been celebrated by wizards for century's. Apart from Yule though, most Muggleborns would have never even heard of them." She stared at me for a moment, probably trying to remember when she had seen me so passionate about something.

As she stood there a pensive look came over her face. "Harry, that's a fine line that your walking." She looked over at me sadly before once again hugging me, my shoulder getting suspiciously damp before she moved away. "It always starts with something small like this, but soon enough it will grow into something else, you can't even hear it in yourself, can you Harry?"

"We'll talk about this and everything you did this summer later Harry, when we have some more time, ok?" At my nod her voice turned a touch colder. "I wouldn't mind hearing some of your other opinions Harry." And with that she turned and walked slowly out of the door.

I let out a sigh. "Well, that could have gone a bit better," I muttered to myself. I slowly started to change into my new robes; the Gryffindor crest sitting proudly upon the left breast, with the mark of a Learned Apprentice above it.

Her talk of Sebastian pulled my thoughts to the guild gathering he was attending - one to secure my apprenticeship. Nothing to worry about he had assured me, just a formality. A coincidence, something told me it wasn't. Not wanting to sound vain but I knew it deep down and I imagine so did he, that gathering was about him, taking me on as an apprentice. It didn't make sense, but I'd found the older I got the less things did. One thing that I did I know was, that this was going to be the start of a very long year?



Yeah, 40,000 + Words, that means I would bother to read this story now lol. Thanks for all the reviews for the last three chapters. Some of them were really insightful. Hope you like this new chapter. As always my (and probably your) thanks goes to Dazzler1 for betaing this chapter.